Washington DC: The Phillips Collection

Located in Washington DC’s historic Dupont Circle area, tucked in among residential buildings, is the Phillips Collection.

The Phillips Collection, America’s first museum of modern art, opened in 1921, originally in the home of Duncan Phillips.  Phillips was instrumental in introducing America to the world of modern art, and following the deaths of two family members, he established a collection of art as a memorial to his family.  It was housed in the family home.

In the beginning, there were only a handful of paintings, but Phillips consciously expanded the collection until it required moving to a larger home (its current location) in 1930.  At that time the home was officially turned into a museum.

Following a four-year renovation and expansion project, named the Sant Building (after longtime patron Victoria P. Sant and her husband), doubled the size of the museum and greatly increased gallery space, yet still maintains the residential intimacy of the building and its collection.  It also added an outdoor courtyard for sculpture display.

The museum is noted for its permanent collection of nearly 2,500 pieces by both American and European impressionists, post-impressionists, and modern artists.  Some masters you will view at the Phillips include Cezanne, Degas, Klee, Matisse, Monet, Picasso, and Renoir.

Mark Rothko No. 14 | Naotake Murayama | Flickr

Some of my favorite pieces were the abstracts in the Rothko Room (seen in the photo above) and some pieces by Henri Toulouse-Lautrec.

The Phillips Collection is located at 1600 21st Street NW, on the corner of Q and 21st.  It is accessible by Metro’s red line.  Exit at the Dupont Circle stops and take the escalator to Q Street.  Turn left at the top of the escalator, and walk one block to 21st.

Hours are Tuesday through Saturday, 10 am to 5 pm, with extended hours on Thursdays to 8:30 pm.  Sunday hours are noon to 7 pm, closing at 5 pm in the summer months.  The museum is closed on Mondays and selected holidays.

Admission charges are $12 for adults, $10 for seniors (62 and over) and students, and free for those under 18 and for Museum Members.  Tickets can be purchased at the museum, or online through Ticketmaster.

The Phillips Collection is a small, intimate museum, and is easily viewed in 1-1 ½ hours.

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